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Rick Dalton, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, was by no means a bad actor, but he was certainly having a rough time keeping his career afloat at the start of Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie. His luck had improved a little bit by the time Once Upon a Time in Hollywood ended, but where did he go from there? Tarantino has the answer, revealing:
What could have easily have happened, even if he had a little bit more success in the 1970s than maybe I give him credit for, what I could really see happening, because it happened to a lot of these guys, is that by the late 1970s, early 1980s, a lot of these macho ’50s and ’60s television leading men they showed up on TV shows again, but as the older cop who’s the boss of the younger cop that sends them out on the missions.
Quentin Tarantino shared how he envisions Rick Dalton’s acting career evolving in the decade+ after the events of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood while appearing on The Margaret Cho podcast. Assuming that Rick Dalton is approximately the same age as Leonardo DiCaprio was when shooting Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, that means he was around 43-44 years old in 1969, so he would definitely be in the right age bracket to play an older cop mentor in an early ‘80s cop show.
The filmmaker also compared Rick Dalton’s career trajectory to actors like Earl Holliman, Jack Kelly and Vic Morrow, all of whom played police bosses later in their career. So while Rick never permanently stayed on the cinematic stage, at least he was able to keep working steadily and become a regular presence on people’s small screens.
Let’s also not forget that in the final act of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rick Dalton married Italian starlet Francesca Capucci and finally established a connection with his neighbor, Sharon Tate, after he incinerated one of the Manson Family members who broke into his home. It’s anyone’s guess whether Rick’s marriage to Francesca lasted and they started a family, or if they went the route that so many Hollywood couples do and eventually divorced, but I’d like to think that Rick and Sharon stayed in touch as the years passed.
So that covers Rick Dalton’s future, but what about his stuntman, Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth? Quentin Tarantino didn’t say, indicating he either hasn’t decided what’s in store for Cliff or he doesn’t want to reveal what’s he taught up just yet. Could that be material being saved for the Netflix miniseries version of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood?
Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth’s professional relationship was on its final legs in the final portion of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood since the former could no longer afford to pay the latter, but maybe that Manson Family home invasion changed things. Even if Cliff didn’t remain Rick’s employee, hopefully they didn’t cut all ties with one another. Still, considering Cliff’s reputation, I suspect he had a harder time of keeping his career going than Rick did.